snow

Snow crystals Symmetry

A scanning electron microscope image of rime frost on both ends of a “capped column” snowflake.  As the author points out “these photographs show the extraordinary symmetry of snow crystals even at high magnification.” Upon further magnifying snow crystals the structure shows a very “high degree of hexagonal structure and symmetry.”  At even higher magnification “crystals show additional ultrastructure.”

These are fun: Magono and Lee Classification of Snow Crystals Part 1 and Part 2.

A interesting study of Polyhedra and Art.

What amazed me about this picture were the hexagon and pentagon shapes similar to those found in honeycomb and more interestingly in fullerenes or Carbon 60 (C60), discovered fairly recently in 1985. Fullerenes are “spherical, caged molecules with carbon atoms located at the corner of the polyhedral structure consisting of pentagons and hexagons, much like the shape of a Soccer ball.” SES Research, watch a video about fullerenes.

Several years ago I was reading about nanotechnology – the engineering of functional systems at the molecular scale. Scientists have since built carbon nanotubes (10,000 times thinner than a human hair) by rolling up sheets of carbon hexagons. That shape is extremely strong and flexible at the same time. It’s an unusual pattern which strikes me as highly unlikely to have come from undirected purposeless processes.  That the laws of physics would be so fine-tuned to facilitate their existence is also a puzzle that should have us raise eyebrows.